Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Taking Care

Amber Field

Over the break, I read Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton. Almost every page left me thinking, "Yes, this is how life should be! Relaxed, meaningful, steady."

But relaxation, meaning and steadiness don't simply show up. We must engage them in a courtship. Spend time alone. Take care of our bodies and souls.

Of course Barton spends a whole book on this topic, but one of my favorite parts was her discussion of taking care of our bodies. "It can be hard and humbling," she says, "to pay attention to your body, whatever state it is in, because it brings you face to face with your finiteness, your vulnerability." (p.64) But we should pay attention. After all, as she quotes from Dorothy Bass...

As the place where the divine Presence dwells, our bodies are worthy of care and blessing and ought never to be degraded or exploited. It is through our bodies that we participate in God's activity in the world. (p.66)

To assist us in beginning to take care, Barton ends by offering a "practice", which I think is worth sharing here...

Take three deep, slow breaths— long inhalations as well as exhalations. Close your eyes... [rest] openly and simply in God's presence for a few moments. Notice how things are with your body these days. What feels tired? What feels energized? What hurts or aches or feels tight? What feels good and strong and well? Does your body feel loved and cared for or unbalanced and abused? (p.68-69)

After this, she simply suggests that we accept whatever gift we might need. Rest. A walk. Or just sitting down and continuing to relish in God's presence. Whatever. Yes, whatever we need to do... to take care.


Amber Field photo art by J Barkat. Used with permission. Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.

NEW LINKS TO THIS POST:

LL's Comfort and Care

Labels: , , , , ,

12 Comments:

Blogger Suz said...

I like that. Thank you.

7:47 PM  
Blogger nannykim said...

I think that is a good point that we often don't follow----we often don't listen to what are bodies are sometimes shouting at us! I ended up having an injury, and I think much of it came about from doing lots of exercise, but not taking the care to stretch the muscles. Then I was in for two years of very bad pain---one side of my body had gotten so tight that it twisted my hip-pelvis area causing a leg lenth difference and blah blah--mucho pain. One thing led to another and another thing--if I had listened and taken the time to hear lots could have been prevented! We forget to how are bodies can affect us spiritually--ie when we are tired we are tempted more easily--we are not as on guard. We tend to separate ourselves body, soul, spirit---but they are all interelated.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

1) Please tell J. that I really like this photograph!

2)I like the practice you quoted from Barton, and I sometimes use this "lamaze-style" breathing with my kids too. We can get so wound up with emotions and the stress of an immediate situation that we lose all clarity to set things in their proper (ie. eternal) perspective.
In my household, and I have three daughters, we sometimes spend entire days walking around like we're in labor- irritable, screechy, demanding, self-focused, hyper emotional...
Not everything is as immediately urgent and requiring us to be so tightly wound as giving birth. This houseful of women could use a little lamaze.;) In fact, very rarely is it true, that we need our ire raised as high as it gets. Lord, save us from ourselves!

I like this small view into Barton's book. Going to have to see if my library has it so I can read the whole thing.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I did the exercise. My eyes feel tired. So I put my contacts in.
In all seriousness, they are tired. Much is demanded of them. Writing. Reading. Computer screens. TV screens. Music pages.
My legs are restless.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L.,
I like the stuff on body here, and on taking care of our bodies, but I seem in the same place I usually am concerning that. Just feeling a little older and less able gradually over time, but thankful for all the energy and health that is still present.

A theology emphasizing the body and the physical is so very important, as we tend to denigrate that, though in Biblical terms the physical is spiritual, or the place of God in this world or in life.

I do notice more and more how every part of me is important in making up the whole of me- and the body is a big part of that. So it's so good that in our Christian hope and faith, these very same bodies partake of the resurrection in Jesus, a future complete physical resurrection of these bodies into spiritual material bodies.

I do wish I would have done better in taking care of my body over the years (too much coffee, too little sleep), though at 51+ I guess I can try to do better (which I think I've done in recent years).

8:34 PM  
Blogger Llama Momma said...

I love this book. I've gone back to it many times, and always I come away with something new and fresh.

Blessings to you for this New Year!

8:59 AM  
Blogger kirsten said...

A beautiful & needed foundation with which to begin a new year. A good time to re-focus & re-energize, to start afresh.

Breathing, pausing. Making the temple of the Holy Spirit a peaceful, worshipful space.

Thank you. I like this too. :o)

11:11 AM  
Blogger Eve said...

If our bodies are God's temple, we should take good care of them. :)

11:11 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Suz... you're welcome!

Nannykim... I'm glad you brought this up. Sometimes what looks like care to begin with gets out of hand and becomes abuse.

Erin... I asked the library order this book and they did! That was great, as you know I'm not really buying books anymore. You make me laugh, likening Barton's practice to Lamaze.

Heather... It was interesting to hear of what you discovered. I began to think more deeply about the exercise. That it's not just about rest, but also about discovery. If our eyes are tired because we demand too much of them, this becomes a signal perhaps of deeper issues, yes?

Ted... I guess that even a body that is not as strong any more can teach us things of the spirit. Like all of physical life, it can become a parable as well as a very intense way in to understanding God and His loving care.

Llama... so it was you! I couldn't remember who had talked about this book before, first piquing my interest. Thanks. I so fully enjoyed reading it.

Kirsten... I thought so too. A deep breath is a good way to begin many things.

Eve... absolutely. I began to wonder if there were exceptions to this thought. Consider, for instance, the physical abuse Jesus accepted.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Charity Singleton said...

I also love this book and have given it as a gift a few times. This chapter especially caught my attention because we so often separate our physical selves from what's going on spiritually.

I like that running has been a spiritual discipline for you. I have often felt that way about running (years ago) and lately about walking.

I see body care as an important form of stewardship as well. One body, one life. Life changes dramatically when we don't take care of our bodies. Additionally, how we care for ourselves physically can dramatically impact how others experience life in their bodies. We are linked to each other physically just as we are spiritually.

5:50 PM  
Blogger Every Square Inch said...

I never considered the work that goes into relaxation but it's true - you have to engage it thoughtfully

1:45 PM  
OpenID spaghettipie said...

First, Happy New Year!

I really like that exercise and am going to start trying it.

I agree with several others - we can't separate the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. They are all intertwined because we are whole people. Each one affects the others.

11:51 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home